The first bestsellers ever published were medieval “bestiaries,” encyclopedias that collected all of human knowledge and myths about animals. Eagles and lions lived in these pages next to imaginary beasts like griffins and sea monsters. For hundreds of years bestiaries rivaled only the bible as the most read books in the western world.
Taking these original bestiaries as his inspiration, Michael Largo returns readers to that captivating wonder of animals we all had as children and looks at the beasts we created with our imaginations, as well as ones long gone. Michael Largo shares the Animal Kingdom’s most fascinating secrets and reveals fact after astonishing—and often hilarious—fact about their oddest behavior.
Here is a sampler of curious facts:
- The star-nosed mole can catch and devour its prey (insects) in an eye-blurring speed of 220 milliseconds.
- In 1842, circus ringmaster P.T Barnum fooled many when he displayed a “mermaid” carcass, which later proved to be monkey bones sewed together with a fish body.
- Peregrine falcons reach speeds during descending flights, called stoops, of over 200 mph, making them the fastest animal in the world.
- Recently discovered in a volcanic crater in New Guinea, the Bosavi Wolly rat grows to the size of cat and weighs four pounds.
- To keep his wife company while he was away, President Andrew Jackson bought an African Grey Parrot, named Poll. The bird outlived them both and was removed from Jackson’s funeral service for cussing obscenities in both English and Spanish.
- If humans had hands proportional to those of bats, each of our fingers would be longer than our legs. (Bats are mammals whose wings are actually webbed hands.)
- Woodpeckers bang their head against a tree 10,000 times each day, on average.